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Latitude: 51.8545 / 51°51'16"N
Longitude: -3.9352 / 3°56'6"W
OS Eastings: 266814
OS Northings: 219093
OS Grid: SN668190
Mapcode National: GBR DY.TBKB
Mapcode Global: VH4J4.QNZ6
Entry Name: Carreg Cennen Castle
Listing Date: 24 November 1998
Last Amended: 24 November 1998
Source ID: 20923
Building Class: Defence
Location: Spectacularly set on a crag over the upper Cennen valley, approached from Carreg Cennen Farm, about 1.5 km E of Trap.
Community: Cyngor Bro Dyffryn Cennen (Dyffryn Cennen)
Community: Dyffryn Cennen
Traditional County: Carmarthenshire
Ruins of a large castle with Welsh origins but rebuilt after 1283 by John Giffard of Brimpsfield, Glos., and his son John. The elder Giffard held it until 1299, except that the crown took it over 1287-9 during the rising of Rhys ap Maredudd. The Giffards also held Llandovery Castle. John Giffard II was executed for his part in the baronial rising against Edward II's favourite Hugh Despenser in 1321. Held by Despenser until his execution and then by various lords until 1340 when it was granted to Henry later Duke of Lancaster, then lord of Kidwelly, and thence it passed with the Lancaster estates to the crown on the accession of Henry IV. It seems likely that most of the building happened after 1287 and before 1321, but documentary accounts are not available. Certainly in form it follows the innovations introduced by Edward I in his Welsh castle building. Accounts of repairs in 1369 suggest that it was then very neglected, as were many other Welsh castles in the C14.
Carreg Cennen was the centre of the Welsh commote of Is-Cennen before the Anglo-Norman incursions, and Roman coins have been found. In the C12 and C13 the site was part of the inheritance of the princes of Deheubarth: the Lord Rhys and Rhys Fychan. The first written record in 1248 says that Rhys Fychan had obtained the castle back from the English, he was driven out in 1257 by his uncle Maredudd ap Rhys, and he in turn lost it to Edward I in 1277. It was captured by the forces of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282, and lost again 1283. The castle was taken by Owain Glyndwr in the uprising of 1403 and the walls were said to have been `completely destroyed'. The castle was involved in the Wars of the Roses on the Lancastrian side and therefore rendered unusable by the Yorkists in 1462. Earl Cawdor (1817-98) undertook extensive conservation works in the C19, restoring several of the wall walks and repairing many of the openings.
Castle, rubble stone with some ashlar dressings. Square inner ward with N gatehouse, round NW tower, rounded NE tower and chapel tower in centre of E side. The S and W sides rise sheer from the cliff. Two-storey hall range against the E wall. This part was built first, then shortly after followed the Barbican in front of the gatehouse and flight of steps up from the E, and shortly after that the Outer Ward extending out to the N and E.
The Barbican approach is by a series of steps with drawbridges to the square tower with drawbridge over the ditch to the gatehouse. This was double-towered with spurred bases to half-octagonal towers and of 3 storeys. The NW tower had an upper floor possibly only accessible from a wall-gallery. The NE tower was vaulted at ground floor. E side had main rooms, storage in ground floor, kitchen, hall and solar above. From the hall a mural stair led up to the chapel at second floor level, within the square E tower.
Curtain walls to W and S, that to W badly ruined, the S preseved to full height. Curved SW corner, not a proper tower. Vaulted passage from SE corner to cave below E outer ward. The Outer Ward defences are much reduced, a lime-kiln survives in the E part.
One of the outstanding castles of Britain.
Scheduled Ancient Monument Cm 1.
Other nearby listed buildings